Quo vadis?

There’s Dungeon and Dragons, there’s Minecraft, there’s World of Warcraft, but Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson’s favourite game is The Stupid Blame Game. The EU has clearly had enough with the not so clever clever tactics of the British Prime Minister, driving Donald Tusk, the Polish politician who is the President of the EU Council, to use some very undiplomatic language in a tweet. He tweeted: “@BorisJohnson, what’s at stake is not winning some stupid blame game. At stake is the future of Europe and the UK as well as the security and interests of our people. You don’t want a deal, you don’t want an extension, you don’t want to revoke, quo vadis?”

Interestingly, and here we go with yet more of the Latin, Donald Tusk finished his quote with the Latin tag quo vadis? Quo vadis is Latin for “Where are you going?” and as such ought to resonate with our famously Classical snob of a Prime Minister. More importantly in this context the phrase was also the title of a very famous Polish novel by Henryk Sienkiewicz, who is one of the giants of Polish literature. Sienkiewicz won the Nobel Prize for literature in 1906. Quo Vadis is his best known work, and the Polish original has been translated into dozens of languages. The novel was made into a TV miniseries in 1985, and turned into a movie no less than five times, most famously in 1951 with Holywood stars Robert Taylor, Deborah Kerr and Peter Ustinov, an adaptation which was nominated for eight Academy Awards.

Set during the Roman Empire the story deals with a meeting between St Peter and the infamously crazed Emperor Nero. The novel’s title comes from the question put to Jesus by St Peter, who appeared to him in a vision as the saint attempted to flee from Rome. St Peter asked “Quo vadis, domine?” Where are you going Lord? To which Jesus replied, “If thou desertest my people, I am going to Rome to be crucified a second time” and shamed St Peter into returning to Rome to accept martyrdom.

The question quo vadis doesn’t just ask where a person is going physically, it’s a question about their moral and ethical destination. In this context it is a question about the ethics and morals of the British Prime Minister. It’s saying that Johnson is putting himself and his own interests before those of the UK. It’s not so much a question as it is a statement calling him a coward and a hypocrite. Boris Johnson is fleeing from his responsibilities. This reference would be very clear to a Polish audience.

It’s not just Donald Tusk who seems to have reached the limits of their patience with the game playing of the British Government. Angela Merkel seems to have had enough too. Until now, the German Chancellor has been one of the strongest voices within the EU calling for patience with the UK, but today we learned that there was apparently a “frank exchange” between her and Johnson in a phone call. A “frank exchange” is diplomatic speak for an argument. According to reports the German Chancellor told the British Prime Minister that a Brexit deal was looking “esstentially impossible”. Which is pretty much what we’ve all known all along.

This is not a Prime Minister who wants a Brexit deal. He wants the UK to crash out without a deal, in order to shore up the Conservative party’s vote amongst leavers and prevent them from drifting off to Nigel Farage in the General Election that is coming soon. He just wants to ensure that it’s the EU which gets the blame for it. The entire economic and diplomatic future and reputation of the UK is to be sacrificed for the short term electoral interests of Boris Johnson and the Conservative party. Quo vadis, indeed.

What makes this all the more galling is that the British Government is risking all our futures in pursuit of a lie. Crashing out of the EU without a deal is not “getting it done”, it is not “getting it over with”. Crashing out of the EU without a deal means disruption and a frantic process of trying to negotiate some sort of deal with the EU from a position of extreme weakness. Crashing out with no deal guarantees that Brexit and the UK’s relationship with the EU will dominate and toxify British politics for many years to come.

This entire episode, these past three years, is a failure of the British state. For Scotland however, it also represents a historic failure for unionism. It’s the final proof that Scottish Unionism is incapable of success even on its own terms.  Compare and contrast the achievements of Ireland during the Brexit process with that of Northern Irish Unionists. The only friends that Northern Ireland’s Unionists have got left are in the Conservative party – a party which we all know will sell them out the second that the Conservatives no longer need to rely on the DUP’s votes in the Commons. They have zero friends and zero influence in Europe. Ireland on the other hand, has the whole of Europe standing with it in solidarity. Ireland has ensured that its diplomatic ties to other EU states have been used to good effect. Within the UK, Scotland and Northern Ireland have only a British Prime Minister who has become a byword for lies and deceit and who has no interest at all in standing up for our particular interests.

What has British diplomacy achieved for Scottish and Northern Irish unionism? How have the efforts of the British state ensured that the interests of Scotland have been recognised, protected, and defended during the Brexit process? The UK has achieved precisely the square root of hee haw in that respect. It has gained less than zero. British diplomacy has trashed the reputation of the entire UK and every constituent part of it. At every stage along the way the interests of Scotland have been marginalised, ignored, ridiculed, and dismissed by a Westminster which refuses to acknowledge that any consideration can stand in the path of rampant English nationalism.

In Northern Ireland only one faction in that divided polity has been listened to, that sole minority faction which supports Brexit, and even then only because the British Government is dependent upon the votes of the DUP. As soon as that consideration no longer applies and the arithmetic of the House of Commons changes, Northern Ireland’s Unionist interests will be as disposable as Scotland’s.

Brexit has taught Scotland that unionism is morally and politically bankrupt. Westminster is not willing to stand up for Scotland either domestically or internationally. The question now for Scotland’s unionists is – Quo vadis?

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42 thoughts on “Quo vadis?

    • You may well be correct Maxstafford but that is their choice. If we start excluding people for their views an affiliations then we are no better than the corrupt biased members of the Conservatists who are xenophobic and want to close our borders. I think we are much better than that.

      • I think you perhaps took me too literally, Alex.
        I don’t actually believe in the fairytales of Iron Age, Levantine goatherders but I’m not going to be harbouring warm, loving thoughts to the British Nationalist community any time soon! 😊
        All said and done I think they’re doing a perfectly good job of excluding themselves in truth. Leave them too it; they can repent at leisure.

  1. Pingback: Quo vadis? | speymouth

  2. Sacramentum sacramentorum (*)

    We live in peculiar times, when Robert Peston of ITV is a mouthpiece for the lies of Bozo Johnson, while Peter Foster of the Torygraph does actual journalism and rubbishes everything the Tories attempt. He also shines a clear light on why and how they are doing it, and what the real outcome is likely to be, namely a further extension, followed by an election in November.

    Peston: “This feels very big. PM spoke with German Chancellor Angela Merkel at 8am this morning. According to Downing Street source, she told the PM that there will be no Brexit deal with the UK unless Northern Ireland is in the customs union “forever”…

    – Robert Peston Twitter –


    “Absolutely overwhelming scepticism among EU corrs that this passes the sniff test. Clumsy attempt to frame the villain.” – Peter Foster rubbishes Bozo’s latest wheeze – Twitter –


    (*) ‘Don’t be a Johnson fluffer, you tw*t’. (ER, ‘Mystery of mysteries’? Ed.)

    • Peter Foster with James Knowles and Gary Gibbon – What comes next –

      @ 20:35 – The EU _will_ give a Brexit extension, if asked, and they will be. An extension “Perhaps even until next EU budget June 2020?” And even beyond !!

      The EU has done a survey and there’s little the UK can disrupt, except sanctions on Russia which were at the UK’s behest anyway.

      Supreme Court and letter goes. Extension. No Deal off the table. Then an election. (Joint opinion).

      Election. Conservatives – biggest party (?), but still a minority government. Hung parliament? “We may be grinding on with this for some time.”

      @25:38 – Q. What odds do you put on a second referendum flowing from hung parliament flowing from election?

      A. “I’m sceptical because… it requires legislation (in a hung parliament) !”

      – Article laying out many of these points – “Brexit proposal sinking on launch?”, by Gary Gibbon, 2nd October 2019 – Channel 4 –


      – “Will Boris Johnson’s Brexit plan fly? | Politics: Where Next? podcast,” – Channel 4 – 35 minutes –


    • Peter Foster with James Knowles and Gary Gibbon – What comes next –

      @ 20:35 – The EU _will_ give a Brexit extension, if asked, and they will be. An extension “Perhaps even until next EU budget June 2020?” And even beyond !!

      The EU has done a survey and there’s little the UK can disrupt, except sanctions on Russia which were at the UK’s behest anyway.

      Supreme Court and letter goes. Extension. No Deal off the table. Then an election. Election. Conservatives – biggest party (?), but still a minority government. Hung parliament? “We may be grinding on with this for some time.” (Joint opinion).

      @25:38 – Q. What odds do you put on a second referendum flowing from hung parliament flowing from election?

      A. “I’m sceptical because… it requires legislation (in a hung parliament) !”

      – Article laying out many of these points – “Brexit proposal sinking on launch?”, by Gary Gibbon, 2nd October 2019 – Channel 4 –


      Video – “Will Boris Johnson’s Brexit plan fly? | Politics: Where Next? podcast,” – Channel 4 – 35 minutes –


  3. It seems to be working its way to the nuclear option that remainder MPs fear but may well use if, as expected panic breaks out at the last minute. Yep here it is the final choice for WM is going to either be No Deal or REVOKE ARTICLE 50. Despite what the media would have you believe – there is no proper deak” to be had. The question is who is going to blink first? My money is on WM so that will be revoke then and face the consequences later. Such A shower of cowards, scared to make the right choice because career and party comes first as always. My heart bleeds.

  4. Boris only has to convince his fan club in the Torygraph, Mail, Express and Sun. The Beeb is already “his-masters-voice” for No 10—except Scotland where it’s purpose is anti-independence.
    Why the absurd bad mouthing of the EU?
    In the coming election, Boris has to portray No Deal as a Betrayal, not a failure, to keep Faragists at bay.
    If he wins big, expect some backtracking and cosying up to the EU. He may be a total narcissist arsehole, but he isn’t daft. An isolated UK will be like a poke of chips to an Trump seagull.
    Scotland has to be out quickly, before the narrative gets a refurb. The media will be on total Brit Nat fight-um-on-the-beaches mode, so we need to get our arses in gear.

  5. I sometimes feel – especially at this time of night – a kind of vague sadness, a sense of something slipping away. I can’t get up the enthusiam I had when we went on the first indy march in 2012. Of course, I was seven years younger then and that can matter a lot when you reach my age. But despite WGD’s excellent, encouraging writing and others exhorting us to be upbeat I just can’t sustain for long any sense that independence is just down the road, just round the bend, just over the hill – it’s coming. I can’t see where it’s coming from.

    Those amongst us who want to drown out any misgivings like mine in ‘ unionist troll’ invective – give us a break. I was never religious and some supporters of indy dismay me greatly with that kind of zealotry.

    Then I read this from Robin Macalpine:


    • Seven years is a long slog. It’s hardly surprising that enthusiasm and energy flags after all that time. I certainly don’t blame you for it or think any the less of you for it.

    • If you are talking about Edinburgh 2012, yep I was also there. A great day, so much excitment, so much promise, and a fine speech by the big man himself. Heck, there was even a saltire in the sky. 🙂

  6. Excellent, Paul, as usual. Interesting question indeed – even in the literal sense. With the clear and growing divisions in all pasts of these islands, perhaps the resettlement question needs to be considered. I would be delighted to see a unified Ireland once more – with a sincere apology from what’s left of the detritus down south to the Irish people for all the shit we’ve landed on them over the years. As for the unionists – in Ireland and Scotland – offer them a resettlement and compensation package and move them into new developments – preferably on Crown Estates like Windsor, where the future King Billy can bask in the glory of marching flute bands every morning and they can all live happily ever after.

    Scotland needn’t worry about sudden depopulation from he departure of the red, white and blue – I’m sure there’ll be an equal number and more heading north to take their place. Quo vades?

    Home. For many a new home. Amongst friends – whatever their beliefs. Wouldn’t that make sense – at least until we learn to tolerate and respect each other again?

    • Mark, I recall that during Project Fear One, when RBS and Barrhead Travel were announcing that they would be shutting up shop in Scotland and moving their HQs to England in the event of YES, in fact, believe that the Travel Firm’s CEO e mailed staff warning of branch closures and redundancies if employees voted Yes, it was reported by the Usual Suspects in the Dead Tree Scrolls that ‘700,000’ English born ‘settlers/colonists’ would up sticks and head back to the Mother Country in an Exodus of Panic and Fear of the Upstart Jocks trashing of the economy and turning on ‘the English’ in their midst.

      Absolute poisonous vitriol and lies, of course

      These days they report on SNP councillor’s shoes budget, Imelda Marcosgate.
      They are sniffing politicians’ underwear in search of a scandal.

      I have no doubt at all that many who have had the good sense, and are highly valued citizens of Scotland who were born in England, and indeed in any of the 150 countries around the globe, including the 185,000 EU citizens working and settled here, will consider their future in an Independent Scotland, as England and Wales leave the EU on 31st October.

      But I have serious reservations that 400,000 English born Scots, not the 700,000 hyperbole conjured up by the Better Together Lairs, will look South when England pulls up the drawbridge on the world, and throw themselves onto Boris Dante’s Inferno, martyrs for Old England.

      In fact, I believe that there will be traffic in the opposite direction.
      As Scotland is established as EU 28 and global industry looks to resettle here, and Nissan, Toyota, Land Rover, Jaguar, and others leave England, then the jobless hundreds of thousands predicted by Yellowhammer, will look North, and ’emigrate’ to Scotland.
      They’re welcome: ‘There’s plenty of room’, once we take back the fifth of Scotland laid waste by the Tribal Lairds as grouse moor killing fields for the Toffs to slaughter animals for fun.


      • Aye, at least the next wave of English moving to Scotland will likely be remainer refugees, happy to vote for Scottish independence. 🙂

        Unless Ireland unites first – geeez we don’t want any BritNat refugees from over there. 🙁

      • Jack – I live in Lancashire and there’s a fairly big ex-pat community in my town. The overwhelming majority detest the SNP and Sturgeon – and are vehemently opposed to Scottish independence. On the other hand, many of my English and Welsh friends in the music scene are hugely in favour – and would move north if Scotland regained its sovereignty from Westminster!

        I’m just back from visiting a 94 year old lass – originally from Glasgow – but residing in Lytham for the last 35 years. She’s the only ex pat who yearns for independence (and respects Sturgeon) that I know. She also enjoys Ardbeg Very Young and recently visited St Kilda – where her mother was born. Enlightened and sagacious beyond belief. She wasn’t always so enthusiastic – she was from our parents’ generation that thought being Scottish and British was something everyone should aspire to. Why did she change her mind?

        “They betrayed us and stole our dreams”

        She was Attlee’s personal secretary and Jennie Lee’s best friend. Not your typical yoon by a long way…

        • Mark, as it happens, I know Lancashire and the NW (of England) very well, and have many friends and ex colleagues living there.
          At one point, Preston was my second home.

          Lytham, St Annes on Sea, Blackpool, Fleetwood, Wray Green, and Lancaster itself, are hardly Left Wing Commie enclaves.

          I am familiar with the ‘ex pat’ Scots who live on the Fylde Coast and it surprises me none that your impression is that in the main they ‘detest the SNP and Sturgeon’.

          Fortunately their views on Scottish Independence matter little.

          They made their choice and left Scotland for the green pastures of Old England.

          However when BAE cuts back on its workforce in that county because of Brexit, and tourists from Europe stop visiting Blackpool, then, perhaps some of the McFylde Clan might have cause to pause and ponder.
          Was voting to build a wall around England the best option?

          Of course they are all welcome to return home come Independence.
          In Scotland there are many mansions.
          All welcome.

          • Indeed. A few years one summer, I organised a session with Paolo Nutini and Phil Cunningham for “Scotland’s Music” in Lytham when the wee man did a fine rendition of Auld Lang Syne. We commandeered The Taps in Lytham for the day – had Colin Henry et al pretending they were in a Scottish pub at Hogmanay. The ‘audience’ were all ex-pats. In the video are two affable blokes – one from Glasgow – one from Kirkcaldy. One was responsible for the Saudi contract at BAE Systems – the other was the principal architect for Universal Credit at the DWP/HP centre in St Annes.

            As an ex-pat for thirty years myself, when I hear a Scottish accent these days – I usually head off in another direction…

  7. Thanks for your latest article Paul. BBC reporting that an extension may go on until next June. All of these twists and turns and maybe a way to go yet? Thank goodness Nicola Sturgeon has refused to jump the gun.

    Posting a cheery wee video from Phantom Power:- https://youtu.be/tdWYglX68XY

    • Aye, in spite of the screams of those calling for another highland charge, to start an indy cmpaign beofre the Brexit dust settles would create chaos and allow the British establishment to open all their boxes of drity tricks. No, we wait until the dust settles and we can see the whites of their eyes, however long that takes.

      For those screaming from the rooftops and insulting the SNP politicians who have been working their backsides off, I say:

      If you are not happy, and fed up waiting, just leave the people who know what they are doing to get on with it. Go back to your box – at least you will do less harm to yourself or others in there. 🙂

  8. There’s good news and bad news good news is Scotland destroyed Russia at the rugby the bad news Westminster got closed again last night so no pmqs.

  9. Exactly Luigi. I know it’s a long shot but revoking Article 50 is still not off the table yet, never mind a multitude of future political permutations. I mean to say how can she go to the Scottish voters in an attempt to encourage them to support Independence, say through debating our future in public, when she’s got nought ”concrete” to compare with an Independent Scotland, at this point in time?

    I sometimes wonder if it’s me that’s lost the plot, as I can’t see what more Nicola Sturgeon could be doing right now. She’s already stated that Indyref2 will be held next year, asked people, frequently, to get out there and get the numbers up, Scottish civil servants have been working on Indyref2 over the last 2 years and the Referendum Bill is progressing, etc, etc. Over and above Independence she’s to get on with the day job, forge links Worldwide, combat her many enemies and now we’ve got ever increasing numbers of so-called supporters running her down at every turn, in particular those that bemoan that she’s fighting Brexit on behalf of English remainers! She’s fighting for the 62% of Scots who voted to remain in the EU. She’s fighting for 100% of Scots who’ll be negatively impacted upon if she’s let down once again, as was the case in 2014, if she doesn’t get the level of support that she needs to win Indyref2. To my mind she’s trying to cover all eventualities. Working her butt off for us in fact.

    Then we have people pointing out that she’ll never get a Section 30 order. Well how do they know that and if that ultimately is the case maybe she’s planning to settle that one in the Courts? We have no idea who she knows, what she knows and what she’s planning to do.

    The latest ”suggestion” is that she should do a deal with the Tories by supporting them to get their form of Brexit through, whatever that would be!!: In turn she’ll be ”allowed” to hold Indyref2. I’ve never heard anything so bl**dy ludicrous in my life and yet many people seem to agree with this course of action.

    Firstly I doubt that the Tories would agree to that but by then, with the ”deal” knocked on the head, the Media would make sure that sneaky wee Nicola was outed. If they did agree initially they’d probably end up reneging on the ”deal”, as per their track record. And if they did abide by their word and we lost Indyref2, as could be the case due to Scottish voters being totally disillusioned with sneaky wee Nicola, we’d be up sh*t creek without a paddle, the SNP would be finished and our cause would be set back for decades, imo.

    The small point of Scots seeing her as being above board and honest, the person who they’ll trust to initially run an Independent Scotland, negotiate assets and so on will be totally ”lost” when she’s exposed as the person who supported the Tories, of all people FGS, and sold out the 62% of Scots who voted to remain in the EU. To be honest I don’t know what some people are playing at, this weather. Then again maybe I do.

    • What Petra said.
      While WoS is debating self generated ‘polls’, the UK is slipping more deeply into chaos.
      Time Stu got back to the day job, challenging the nonsense coming from Johnson, Gove, Swanson, and Corbyn.
      I think that we’ve had enough ‘polls’ for a wee while.
      Well said, Petra.
      I am not a member of the SNP, or indeed any party, but the current Scottish Administration is the ONLY mechanism to take forward Indyref 2.
      Perhaps it’s time to get behind our Government, and spend less time navel gazing and churning out ‘what ifs’.
      The time for gathering around the pot bellied stove, spitting on the hot plate and watching it sizzle have long gone.
      The only poll that will matter are the returns counted at 10.00 p.m., when the polling booths close on the day of Indyref2.
      Now is the time to buck up and get behind the goal, Scotland as an Independent nation once again..
      Rev Stu, you have done great work.
      Time to take up the reins and get back in the race.

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